Melanoma risk is prevented by sun exposure. Case closed! -By Marc Sorenson, EdD
Melanoma risk between persons with high and low vitamin D levels
Melanoma risk is probably the most misunderstood topic in medicine. I recently wrote about the inverse association between vitamin D and melanoma. But I finally decided that my case had insufficient passion and surety. Consequently, I decided to write this addition and provide some new and restated information.
Melanoma risk is directly associated with low levels of vitamin D. That is the conclusion of recent study published in the European Journal of Cancer. The investigators measured the blood vitamin D levels of 137 subjects who had been diagnosed with melanoma. They collected the blood samples at the time of diagnosis of the disease. Another group of 99 healthy subjects served as the control group. The investigators collected the samples of the control group between October and April. The scientists then compared the blood collections of the melanoma group with those of the control group. They then determined whether vitamin D levels had an association with melanoma risk.
The study produced convincing results regarding vitamin D and melanoma risk.
The results were as follows:
- The controls (no melanoma) had vitamin D levels 50% higher than the melanoma group (27.8 ng/ml vs. 18 ng/ml).
- 66.2% of the melanoma group had vitamin D “deficiency,” compared to only 15.2% of the health controls. The scientists defined vitamin D deficiency as being equal to or less than 20 ng/ml. So, the melanoma group had more than four-times the risk of deficiency.
- The scientists defined vitamin D “sufficiency” as being equal to or greater than 30 ng/ml. They found that only 7.4% of melanoma patients were sufficient, compared to 37.4% of healthy controls. Hence, the melanoma group had about one-fifth the likelihood of having sufficient D levels.
More scientific analysis on vitamin D measurements vs. melanoma risk
The scientists then adjusted the data for possible confounding factors such as age, sex and body mass. Then, they performed an analysis that showed the following:
- First of all, a significant inverse association was demonstrated with vitamin D sufficiency versus deficiency. Those who had sufficient levels had only 4% of the melanoma risk when compared to those who were deficient! Hence, this would indicate that those with the lowest vitamin D levels (after adjusting for confounding factors) had 25-times the melanoma risk!
- And, vitamin D insufficiency vs. deficiency was significantly inversely associated with melanoma. Those who were insufficient had a definite advantage over those who were deficient. They had only 13% of the melanoma risk.
Now, let’s get to the most important point about melanoma risk:
In addition, this research proves conclusively that sun deprivation is a major cause of melanoma. Therefore, vitamin D levels are surrogate measurements for sun exposure in nearly every case. And why do I say than this research conclusively proves that sun exposure reduces melanoma risk? Because about 90% of serum vitamin D is produced by sun exposure to the skin. So, the aforementioned research is really research on sun exposure. It indicates that regular sun exposure leads to a profoundly higher vitamin D levels and therefore a profoundly reduced melanoma risk. So, let’s restate the facts about vitamin D, sunlight and melanoma.
- First of all, sunlight exposure to skin produces 90% of the vitamin D levels in the public.
- Secondly, the higher the vitamin D levels, the lower is the risk of melanoma.
- Therefore, high sun exposure reduces melanoma risk.
- Case closed!
Nevertheless, there is more corroborating evidence for the case.
In addition, here are a few more facts indicative of sun exposure’s protective effect against melanoma risk:
- Another supporting fact: 75% of melanomas occur on body areas that are seldom if never exposed to sunlight.
- In addition, sun exposure decreased by 90% since 1935, while melanoma increased by 3,000%.
- Also, in the past four decades, melanoma has increased 400% while sunscreen use also increased 400%.
- Furthermore, sunburn is said to increase melanoma risk. And recent research shows that sunscreen use increases the risk of sunburn from 300-600%.
Could sunlight reduce melanoma through photoproducts beyond vitamin D?
In conclusion: In my new book, Embrace the Sun (coauthored by Dr. William Grant), we note that sun exposure provides more than vitamin D. It also provides other photoproducts such as nitric oxide, serotonin, endorphin, and brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF). All of these photoproducts are vital to human health. Could these photoproducts have a positive and protective effect against melanoma risk beyond vitamin D? And, who is to say that the vitamin D produced by sunlight is not superior to that given in pill form?
Finally, this research gives us one more reason to embrace the sun safely without burning. And who would have thought that safe sunlight could be one of the best prophylactics against melanoma risk?
Happy sunning! Do not burn.
The book is available at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Embrace-Sun-Marc-B-Sorenson/dp/069207600X
 Cattaruzza MS, Pisani D, Fidanza L, Gandini S, Marmo G, Narcisi A, Bartolazzi A, Carlesimo M. 25-Hydroxyvitamin D serum levels and melanoma risk: a case-control study and evidence synthesis of clinical epidemiological studies. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2018 Feb 12. [Epub ahead of print]
 Reichrath J. The challenge resulting from positive and negative effects of sun: how much solar UV exposure is appropriate to balance between risks of vitamin D deficiency and skin cancer? Prog Biophys Mol Biol 2006;92(1):9-16
 Crombie IK. Distribution of malignant melanoma on the body surface.Br J Cancer. 1981 Jun;43(6):842-9.
 Melanoma International Foundation, 2007 Facts about melanoma. Sources: National Cancer Institute 2007 SEER Database, American Cancer Society’s 2007 Facts and Figures, The Skin Cancer Foundation, The American Academy of Dermatology.
 Joseph C DiNardo and Craig A Downs. Should We Use Products Containing Chemical UV Absorbing Sunscreen Actives on Children? Clin Dermatol Res J 2019, 4:1.
 Kasey L. Morris, PhD; Frank M. Perna, EdD, PhD. Decision Tree Model vs Traditional Measures to Identify Patterns of Sun-Protective Behaviors and Sun Sensitivity Associated With Sunburn. JAMA Dermatol. Published online June 27, 2018.